Laxmana Dalmia was born with a weighty legacy: her father RK Dalmia was one of corporate India’s most colourful personalities. Her mother Dineshnandini was his youngest wife (out of six), wedded to him at 32 when he was 53. She was an outspoken feminist, award-winning poet and novelist.
Laxmana was one of seven children the couple bore – and one of 18 children her father had in all. Her father did not allow his many wives to mingle, and they continue to live on expansive properties in Lutyens’ Delhi in separate homes.
With two headstrong parents, India’s newly won Independence as a backdrop, and a large dose of political, personal and business drama in their lives, Laxmana’s childhood was eventful to say the least.
An emotional, introverted child, she began writing poetry in adolescence, having inherited the love for the written word from her firebrand mother.
“My mom used to make me write out her manuscripts,” recalls the 67-year-old, who attended Mater Dei School and later did her Bachelor’s and Master’s in philosophy from Delhi University.
While still young, Laxmana fell in love with Aziz Quraishi, an inter-religious match that was forbidden by her strict father. Though RK Dalmia passed away when Laxmana was 24, and her mother – much later – cajoled her to marry Aziz, Laxmana decided marriage was unnecessary for their relationship.
In any case, she already had a child to care for – she had brought up her late sister’s son from the time he was a month old.
Laxmana began her career as a teacher when she was 16 in a school for 400 children that her mother had set up on their property. In her early 30s, Laxmana had been working as a lecturer in IP College.
One day, she was sitting in a café, confused about the career choices ahead of her, when a Spanish woman approached her. “You’re at a crossroad,” the stranger said, and proceeded to teach Laxmana about tarot. At the end of the surreal conversation, the lady handed Laxmana a set of heritage cards as a gift.
Moved, Laxmana quit her career as a teacher and went into business with Aziz. They launched a film production company making documentaries and serials for the public sector for many years. But more mystical experiences were in store.
When Laxmana was 50, a freak fire burned down her entire office, destroying all their equipment, films and documentation. The only thing that survived was the set of tarot cards.
“Suddenly, a voice within me guided me to take up this path,” she recounts. She studied various forms of energy healing and card-reading, and took on clients, helping them make the right choices in their lives.
Now, the former teacher, filmmaker and tarot reader is all set for her next role: that of poet. Her new book One Soul Many Lives is a collection of poems written over the years, juxtaposed with visual art. “Your circumstances may be destined, but your choices decide your future,” says the spiritual guide and poet.
First published in the March 2018 issue of eShe magazine. Read it for free here.